After amendment Bill defeat, Sarawak party tells Putrajaya to heed aspirations of the people

Soo said the federal government in the past could get away with anything, but not today. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Soo said the federal government in the past could get away with anything, but not today. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUCHING, April 10 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government should recognise and take heed of the aspirations of the people of Sarawak and Sabah following the defeat of the amendment Bill in Parliament, Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo said today.

She said the federal government in the past could get away with anything, but not today.

“It is a clear-cut case that the people of Sarawak and Sabah have displayed their strong resolve to band together to secure their rights and sovereignty under the rule of law, be it national law, state law or international law,” she said.

Soo said when circumstances dictate, the people of the two Borneo states will not hesitate to unite to pursue their rights, including their inalienable right to decide their political destiny.

“The political maturity of the people of Sarawak and Sabah has reached new heights not seen since the formation of Malaysia,” Soo, who is also a state rights activist, said when responding to the failure of the Bill to receive a two-thirds majority support from Members of Parliament last night.

The Bill was supported by 138 Members of Parliament, 10 short of the two-thirds majority required for any Constitutional amendment to go through, while 59 others abstained and no Members of Parliament voted against it.

Nineteen federal lawmakers from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) are among those who abstained.

The Bill sought to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore the status of Sarawak and Sabah to the original position in 1963.

Soo said the action of the GPS lawmakers not to support the Bill reflected nationalist sentiments which have not been witnessed since the Anti-Cession Movement of the 1940s, when Sarawak was annexed by Britain to become a Crown colony. 

“The people’s level of awareness of political issues affecting the future of their respective states is very much evident,” she said, adding that the people have voiced out loud and clear that any Constitutional amendments without adhering to the principle of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) should be rejected.

Soo insisted that any Constitutional amendment which affects the political position of Sarawak and Sabah must first be brought before their respective State Assemblies for legitimacy.

She said the consensus of non-governmental organisations, civil societies and unrepresented Sarawak political parties should also be sought.

Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS Baru) information chief Bobby William said he can understand why the amendment Bill failed to go through in Parliament.

He said he did not agree with the wording and structure of the Bill which did not accord Sarawak and Sabah as equal in status to Peninsular Malaysia.

“There is nothing to indicate in the Bill that the Sarawak and Sabah will be equal in status to Peninsular Malaya, but instead still putting two Borneo states on level terms with the states of Peninsular Malaysia.

“If anything, the amendment Bill has become a tool for PH and GPS to score political mileage for themselves,” he said.